If you suffer from chronic pain, you can be helped by medical professionals and complementary treatments to manage the pain.
Chronic pain management or treatment differs for each person and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides useful guidance.
Because pain is subjective, locating and diagnosing the pain relies on patients and healthcare professionals working together to identify the causes and finding ways to relieve the pain. When addressing chronic pain, the main goal of treatment is to reduce pain and improve function in order for the person to resume day-to-day activities as much as possible.
Pain management techniques can be invasive, non-invasive or pharmacological. Many non-invasive techniques utilize an active or behavioral approach towards pain relief to support, develop and strengthen the capability of chronic pain sufferers to manage their pain.
Non-invasive pain management methods include exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, superficial heating or cooling of skin and TENS therapy or another form of electrotherapy.
The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) believes these can provide complementary or better relief than those who only take medication or invasive interventions to mitigate pain.
Chronic Pain and Exercise
Chronic pain can often be debilitating, but not exercising can often be worse. If you’d like to get more exercise, it’s best to speak with a medical professional about what would be right for you.
Many types of gentle exercise can be therapeutic and often include range-of-motion activities, stretching, strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. Some simple ways of doing this include walking, yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and aquatherapy.
Pain flare-ups can be common, even with safe exercise, which is why it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to determine a careful exercise program and help you to understand when and why some discomfort can be ‘good’.
Chronic Pain and Physical Therapy
People with chronic pain often find physical therapy to be a useful way to deal with the pain. In a report by the NIH, which focuses on the overuse of opioids to treat chronic pain, they recommend non-pharmacological therapies, including physical therapy.
Physical therapy is beneficial because it is guided by the patient’s underlying conditions, and aims to find the source of the pain, rather than just treating the pain.
Through tailored exercises, physical therapists help patients reduce pain by building strength and increasing mobility.
The American Chronic Pain Association has useful resources on physical therapy, what to expect from a visit and common tools to assess pain.
Chronic Pain and Chiropractic
Those that suffer from chronic back pain should consider chiropractic care as a safe and non-invasive therapy. Although chiropractic does have some risks associated with it, they are relatively low and many patients feel immediate relief following treatments, as found by the American Chiropractic Association.
A study conducted by the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that chiropractic care was more effective than other forms of medical care for patients suffering from chronic back pain for less than a year.
When seeing a chiropractor, they often use a technique called spinal manipulation to try to correct the body’s alignment to relieve pain. This in turn improves your movements and encourages the body to heal itself.
Other Ways of Dealing with Chronic Pain
An article in OnHealth provides several additional recommendations for dealing with and treating chronic pain.
One such recommendation is to keep a pain journal to keep a record of your pain symptoms, what you did that day, and what foods you ate, providing yourself and your doctor with a valuable record that could help to discover more effective treatments.
Breathing deeply is another way to help some of the discomfort or pain to melt away.
Taking daily supplements can also assist with bone health and pain relief, in particular, when it comes to arthritis or other joint pain, according to the NIH.
Therapy and Negative Sides of Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain is challenging for the sufferer, as well as their friends and family. Chronic pain has negative impacts on many essential aspects of a person’s life, including personal relationships, daily routine and work productivity.
Due to this, many people with chronic pain feel isolated, and they often need empathy from others to help them cope with the pain.
Visiting a counselor or therapist can be beneficial and help cope with the physical and mental suffering caused by pain and they help work through practical solutions to the daily problems resulting from the presence chronic pain.
Specially trained pain psychologists work in a medium where psychology meets medicine and use a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, relaxation strategies and education to empower patients to manage their pain.
Due to the relentless nature of chronic pain, and its inverse effects on the person’s lifestyle, many sufferers find it difficult to deal with chronic pain.
People often wonder if the pain is all in their head, or have difficulty making friends or family understand just how much pain they are in. This often leads to feelings of isolation or depression, and the presence of pain often overshadows the need to recognize and treat depression.
Studies have shown that there is a positive association between individuals suffering from pain and suicide, according to a study and analysis in the December 2015 Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Based on these statistics, the most important thing to remember is if you suffer from chronic pain you are not alone and there are many treatments and medical professionals available to help you manage your pain.
For more information about chronic pain and management, we’d recommend you read through the Guide to Chronic Pain put together by the ACPA or visit the Chronic Pain Information Page by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Remember, most people find a combination of tailored approaches is the best way to address chronic pain.